George Washington's Christmas Eggnog

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The Landsdowne portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart (National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution).

The Homemade Eggnog Recipe from Mount Vernon (and the Story Behind It)

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Hold on to your socks with this homemade old-school eggnog recipe from Mount Vernon, George Washington’s estate. There’s a good story to go with it, too.

Eggnog was certainly popular during colonial times. Brought over from Britain (and going back to medieval times), eggnog was a special-occasion drink due to its ingredients (milk, eggs, alcohol), which were quite expensive at the time. 

According to kitchen records, George Washington served an eggnog-like drink loaded with alcohol to visitors at Mount Vernon. Below is his recipe, supposably penned in his own hand. We added ingredient amounts since folks tended to estimate back then.

George Washington Eggnog Recipe 

“One-quart cream, one-quart milk, one dozen tablespoons sugar, one-pint brandy, ½ pint rye whiskey, ½ pint Jamaica rum, ¼ pint sherry – mix liquor first, then separate yolks and whites of 12 eggs, add sugar to beaten yolks, mix well.

Add milk and cream, slowly beating. Beat whites of eggs until stiff and fold slowly into mixture. Let set in cool place for several days. Taste frequently.”

So, is this Washington’s recipe in his own hand? Although widely circulated as being true, it isn’t very likely. We contacted Mount Vernon’s librarians, who said no eggnog recipe has been definitively linked to Washington. It did not come from George or Martha Washington’s papers. It was not in Martha’s cookbook (which she inherited from her first marriage), nor was it provided in her personal copy of The Art of Cookery by Hannah Glasse, the popular English cookbook in America at the time. 

The recipe above is indeed a true vintage recipe. However, it is believed to have come from the 19th century, whereas George Washington lived in the 18th century.

Mount Vernon Eggnog Recipe 

We do have another homemade eggnog recipe kindly shared by Mount Vernon, as eggnog was indeed a popular drink in the latter half of the 18th century. 

We’ve slightly adapted this recipe to make the ingredient amounts clear. We recommend preparing the mixture a day in advance so it’s well chilled. It’s well worth it! The grocery store stuff isn’t even the same animal.


  • 12 eggs (pasteurized if possible), room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • One-fifth bourbon (750ml bottle)*
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-quart whipping cream
  • Optional: 1 cup milk
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons nutmeg, freshly grated (not ground)

*Note: You can adjust the amount of alcohol in this recipe or omit it altogether. Or, use a different alcohol on hand; common choices include brandy, rum, bourbon, or whisky. One eggnog recipe we enjoy (from the 1950s) uses “1 cup bourbon and 1 cup Cognac” instead of the one-fifth bourbon.


  1. Separate the egg whites and yolks very carefully, ensuring there is no yolk in the whites. Cover the egg whites and store them in the refrigerator.
  2. Whisk egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl. (Or, use an electric or stand mixture with a whisk attachment.) Whip until thick and smooth; it should be lemon yellow in color in 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Slowly add the desired alcohol to a large bowl while beating at a slow speed. Scrape down the side of the bowl. Chill mixture for several hours or overnight.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until almost stiff. 
  5. Whip the cream until stiff. 
  6. Fold the whipped cream into the yolk mixture, then fold in the beaten egg whites. Chill for one hour.
  7. When ready to serve, sprinkle the top with freshly grated nutmeg. Serve in punch cups with a spoon.
  8. Add 1 cup of milk to the yolk mixture for a thinner eggnog if desired.

cup of eggnog with nutmeg holiday treat

More Recipes

  • It turns out George Washington WAS known to make a cherry bounce, a brandy-based drink also popular in the eighteenth century. We can say, in complete confidence, that this festive alcoholic drink recipe is straight from the Washingtons; it was a hand-written recipe card in Martha Washington’s notebook. Discover George Washington’s Cherry Bounce
  • Prefer a non-alcoholic eggnog? Here’s a recipe for Non-Alcoholic Eggnog
  • Need a Christmas cake to wash that down? Here’s Martha Washington’s “Great Cake” recipe baked for celebrating what she called “a true Virginia Christmas” at Mount Vernon.

See 10 Christmas Drink and Cocktail Recipes!

About The Author

Catherine Boeckmann

Catherine Boeckmann loves nature, stargazing, and gardening so it’s not surprising that she and The Old Farmer’s Almanac found each other. She leads digital content for the Almanac website, and is also a certified master gardener in the state of Indiana. Read More from Catherine Boeckmann

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